Latest F1 news in brief: Tuesday

  • Briatore (L) not allowed to replace Ecclestone (R)
    Briatore (L) not allowed to replace Ecclestone (R)

    Preferred successor Briatore ruled out – Ecclestone

  • Newey not lifting F1 workload beyond 50pc
  • FIA eyes Alonso's broken seat after crash
  • Dane backs Magnussen after Palmer defeat
  • Letter not just about qualifying – Wurz
  • Gold Coast eyes future Australian GP
  • F1 'not as attractive today' – Sato
  • Warwick returns as Bahrain driver steward
  • Vasseur: Renault pace a 'good surprise'

Preferred successor Briatore ruled out – Ecclestone
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has revealed that "blocks" have been placed on his preferred successor.

The apparent lack of a succession plan for the 85-year-old Briton has long been an issue, but supremo Ecclestone says his main suggestions were "thrown out".

"There are a million people who think they can do it, but it is an urgent case of finding the right one," he told the Daily Star Sunday newspaper.

The matter may now have returned right to the top of the agenda, with Ecclestone revealing to the Mail on Sunday that CVC is poised to sell F1.

"Actually, two of the people have agreed the price," he said. "It's just a question of whether CVC wants to sell or not."

But as for who might one day run the sport in Ecclestone's wake, the diminutive billionaire says his preferred nomination has been ruled out.

"I would love Flavio (Briatore) to come back," he told the Star, referring to the flamboyant former Renault team boss who left F1 in disgrace after the 'crashgate' scandal.

"But there are blocks on him and that is so sad and a great loss to F1," Ecclestone added.

Adrian Newey
Adrian Newey

Newey not lifting F1 workload beyond 50pc
(GMM) Even rules for significantly faster F1 cars in 2017 will not change Adrian Newey's 50 per cent focus on the sport.

That is the news of Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, even though he confirms that the famous F1 designer's work on America's Cup yacht design is now finished.

"We've completed the work that we were contracted to do, so our involvement in the Americas Cup is now finished," he said. "We've delivered a product that will hopefully assist them."

Newey, 57, stepped back from the front line in F1 a couple of years ago amid frustration about the regulations, with the 'power units' now dominating performance and aerodynamic innovation severely restricted.

But he still works for Red Bull, where he will now begin a "dream" job helping new sponsor Aston Martin design a faster-than-F1 'hypercar'.

"He's got more than enough on his plate for the next two years with this road car, and beyond that, let's see," Horner continued.

He explained that, although the F1 regulations will change substantially in 2017, Newey will not increase his workload beyond 50 per cent.

"Adrian will be splitting his time as last year, 50-50," said Horner.

"Before too long he'll be starting to look at 2017, now that those regulations look pretty fixed."

Alonso's carbon fiber seat broke
Alonso's carbon fiber seat broke

FIA eyes Alonso's broken seat after crash
(GMM) The FIA has launched an investigation into Fernando Alonso's spectacular Melbourne crash, with insiders saying the Spaniard was lucky to survive.

Reports including one in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reveal the governing body's probe follows revelations Alonso's seat was actually broken as his McLaren-Honda flipped through the Albert Park gravel.

It is claimed Alonso's carbo-fiber seat broke at around shoulder height due to forces exceeding 46G, triggering the investigation as the FIA aims to learn from the accident for the future.

The report said the all-new rearwards-facing, ultra slow-motion camera that was made mandatory in 2016 will be fundamental to the study.

And Corriere della Sera concluded: "If the chassis of the McLaren-Honda can be repaired for Bahrain, Alonso will have a new engine installed because it was heavily damaged in Australia."

Rookie Palmer beat the more experienced and highly overrated Magnussen his very first time out
Rookie Palmer beat the more experienced and highly overrated Magnussen his very first time out

Dane backs Magnussen after Palmer defeat
(GMM) A countryman of F1 returnee Kevin Magnussen has defended the Dane's performance at the recent Australian grand prix.

Jolyon Palmer, a rookie and Magnussen's teammate at Renault, has been quoted as saying out-qualifying and then beating the former McLaren driver to the checkered flag on debut is a boost to his confidence.

But Jason Watt, a Dane and former F3000 driver, told Ekstra Bladet newspaper that he thinks therefore declaring Briton Palmer the Renault team leader on the basis of Australia is wrong.

"Renault regards its drivers as equals — it is unnecessary to have one of them as the leader," he insisted.

"Right now I see Kevin as better than Palmer anyway. It was a minor driving error that cost Kevin in qualifying, but at all other times he was faster," Watt added.

"The most impressive for me was Kevin's ability to run fast and reliably on worn tires, which was not his strength in 2014," he said, referring to Magnussen's single season with McLaren two years ago.

"In the last part of the race I think Kevin showed what the difference between the two drivers really is — I think he was 0.3 to 0.5 seconds faster than Palmer on an average lap," added Watt.

But he also warned that Magnussen and Palmer have a bigger picture to think about in 2016, as Renault regards the season as a building year for the future.

"The problem for both of them is that one of them will probably have to make space (in 2017) for Esteban Ocon, who is really fast," said Watt.

Alex Wurz
Alex Wurz

Letter not just about qualifying – Wurz
(GMM) Alex Wurz insists the dissenting letter written on behalf of the current F1 drivers is not a mere reaction to the qualifying format debacle.

Through the Wurz-led Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA), the drivers hit out at the sport's current governance last week hot on the heels of the farcical 'musical chairs' debut in Melbourne, its immediate scrapping and then controversial resurrection ahead of Bahrain.

When asked about the saga, former F1 driver and GPDA president Wurz told Spain's Marca newspaper: "The drivers have already expressed what they think about this qualifying.

"I think nothing is gained through that format. It should be improved because what we had before was better, but this (qualifying) is not to do with what was expressed in the letter," he insisted.

Some drivers have also expressed individually their frustration with the status quo in F1 and the fact their voices are not being heard by authorities.

Wurz admitted that the letter was a push by the drivers to exert more influence.

"You can compare it in some way to politics and the difference between those governing and the opposition," he said.

"We love the sport and want formula one to be fun. If we talk in terms of political opposition tactics, our only solution is to express our dissatisfaction with what is happening at this time," Wurz, 42, explained.

"We just want to make sure that our feelings are known."

Wurz smiled, however, when told that the only way the drivers will really be taken seriously is if they threaten to boycott races.

"Even the authorities agree that this sport needs a number of adjustments to find the right direction for the future," he said.

"It remains one of the sports with the biggest following and an incredible marketing platform, but everyone wants the whole structure to be improved.

"What can the drivers do? The worst thing would be to do nothing," added Wurz.

Indy Cars used to race at Surfers
IndyCars used to race at Surfers

Gold Coast eyes future Australian GP
(GMM) Queensland has flagged a potential bid to poach the Australian grand prix from rival state Victoria, the current host of the F1 season opener in Melbourne.

In recent times, it has been New South Wales looking to steal Melbourne's thunder by proposing a race in famous Australian city Sydney.

But Queensland's major events minister Kate Jones has admitted she envisages world champion Lewis Hamilton and his rivals racing on the iconic Gold Coast.

"Of course we would love to talk to formula one about coming to the Gold Coast," she told the local Gold Coast Bulletin.

"We are always looking for quality events to attract visitors and investment to Queensland," Jones added.

Amid the latest Sydney rumors, F1 supremo Ecclestone said earlier this month that while happy with Melbourne, a change of venue for Australia cannot be ruled out.

"It would be a shame if we did move, but circumstances change a lot and things happen in the world so let's wait and see," he said.

As for Queensland's chances, however, a figure close to the V8 Supercar race on the streets of the famous Gold Coast played down the likelihood.

"It would be amazing to have here," said Brett Murray, "but Melbourne do a very good job and if it was to come here the investment required would be enormous."

Takuma Sato
Takuma Sato

F1 'not as attractive today' – Sato
(GMM) Former driver Takuma Sato says that, amid the category's obvious challenges, he still loves F1.

The Japanese is now a mainstay of America's top open wheeler series Indycar, telling the Spanish daily Marca that he thinks F1 was better in his day.

"I do not see F1 as attractive as before," said the 39-year-old, who made his debut for Jordan in 2002 and raced until 2008 with Super Aguri.

"But I understand that today the economic situation and the sophisticated technology have changed things. The fans don't like them but I'm not totally against it because F1 is always a technological challenge that I love."

Sato, however, thinks Indycar boasts more "action on the track" than F1, because the cars are all similar.

"You can do a bad qualifying but still win the race because you can fight and overtake. In F1 this is much more complicated," he added.

"Yes, for the drivers it (Indycar) is more fun, more exciting, but also for the engineers because there are many details. Formula one is very sophisticated and aerodynamically very efficient, but in Indycar on the ovals, the car has to be perfect.

"The average speed is very high so we focus on engineering the car more precisely than in formula one. Physically it is very similar, at least compared to my time in F1.

"What is certain is that F1 is fast on the straights but the cornering forces are lower than in Indycar, and this is multiplied on the ovals. We are at 6G now and I've never seen that in F1. There, you take a bend but in two seconds it's over, but on an oval it never seems to end," said Sato.

Finally, as a former F1 disciple of Honda and still powered today by the Japanese carmaker, Sato was asked about McLaren and Fernando Alonso's situation.

"Technologically I do not know what is happening," he admitted, "but I still have contact with some of the guys I worked with at Honda and they tell me they are working hard.

"I am sure that Honda and McLaren will be strong eventually, you just have to wait a couple of seasons," Sato said. "Hopefully they will make great progress this year and surely they will become more competitive, especially next year," said Sato.

He admitted that the clash of cultures between Japan and the UK-based McLaren team would be a problem to overcome.

"For sure there is some kind of difficulty in this matter because they are different languages and cultures, but in the end what is best for both parties and the goal is the same.

"The English want to win races and so do the Japanese, they just have to take that time," said Sato.

He therefore advises Alonso to stay the course for now.

"Yes, he should. I'm sure he will be back — it's what we all want to see," said Sato.

Warwick returns as Bahrain driver steward
Derek Warwick will return to the role of the FIA's driver steward at this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, the second round of the championship.

Warwick has acted as the driver steward on a number of occasions since the initiative was introduced at the start of 2010, most recently at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last year.

Warwick started 147 races across a lengthy career in the sport between 1981 and 1993, most notably with Renault, claiming four podium finishes in 1984 en-route to a high of seventh in the standings.

Warwick also emerged triumphant at the 1992 Le Mans 24 Hours and is currently President of the British Racing Drivers' Club, which owns and operates Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix.

Frederic Vasseur happy with Renault pace
Frederic Vasseur happy with Renault pace

Vasseur: Renault pace a 'good surprise'
Renault Racing Director ‎Frederic Vasseur has described the manufacturer's pace as a "good surprise" and believes the outfit can compete on merit with Mercedes-powered rivals Williams and Force India.

Renault made its return to the sport as a full works team in Australia, with Jolyon Palmer finishing in 11th on his debut and Kevin Magnussen recovering from a first lap puncture to collect 12th position.

Vasseur says that the pace of the squad's RS16 was encouraging, compared to expectations off the back of pre-season testing in Spain.

"We didn't have any major issues, it was good to drive," he said. "The first target was to finish the race and we achieved it with both cars.

"You always have to think about what was the objective when you start and if someone told me in Barcelona that we would fight in the race with a Force India and a Williams I would have laughed! It's a good surprise."

Vasseur insists that there are no specific targets for this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix, other than chipping away at the potential within the team.

"We don't have to be focused on one thing, but work on every side of the business: engine, chassis and drivers," he explained.

"We need to work as a team to move forward. But it is very encouraging to start like we did in Australia, we now need to keep the momentum going."

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